There’s no one recovery time or post-operative regimen for every procedure. Every shoulder surgery we do has a different rehabilitation program and healing time, and there are different restrictions for each procedure. That gives us a skeletal approach to how the patient is going to recover post-operatively.
We specialize the program for each patient. For instance, some patients don’t have a biceps tenodesis, where we cut the biceps and tie it down, and some patients do. The patients that don’t have it, we don’t have to protect the biceps after surgery, and they can heal faster.
Some patients have a labrum repair, and some have had a labrum debridement, where we just shave the labrum and smooth it off. The patient that has the repair is gonna have a slower rehabilitation than the patient that just has the debridement procedure.
Some patients have a large rotator cuff repair, and we have to really protect those patients. Other patients have a small rotator cuff repair, or a partial repair, and we can let those patients move faster. Some patients are worried about them getting stiff, so we’ll move those patients faster. Some patients are on rheumatoid medicine, or some other steroid medicine or even chemotherapy. We’ll have to slow down their rehab so they don’t tear.
As far as getting the incisions wet, we usually ask patients to wait three days before their first shower. We don’t want them submerging into a hot tub or pool, until we clear them in clinic and remove their stitches. We don’t want patients to let water seep into that incision. A little bit of shower water on the outside of the incision, especially if there’ve already begun to scab, should be fine.
Patients after shoulder surgery usually have a sling. Basically, the more we do to the shoulder, the longer you’re in the sling. Some patients, if we reconstruct their acromioclavicular joints, they’ll be in a sling for six weeks, and we’ll just let them heal, because we don’t wanna mess with the reconstruction there and have the clavicle pop up again. We’ll really baby those patients, and they’ll stay in a sling, whereas maybe other patients just had a small labrum tear and we just had to smooth that out. They may be only in the sling for four weeks, and they can start moving a lot faster. So, it really is an individualized program for each patient.